Category Archives: what we’re reading

What We’re Reading

Raising a family is the most important duty a man has. Without children the state has no future, and if those children are not brought up properly then that future is bleak. When there is so much at stake it is vital to get it right, and in this article I will explain how to make sure your family is a source of great pride to you. No man could ever be happy if his wife ignored his needs or his children disobeyed his instructions, but if you follow the simple principles laid out here you can make sure that your household runs smoothly and efficiently.

The most important decision is choosing a good wife. Use your head more than your heart. Draw up a list of candidates and think about what each one would bring to the marriage. If you marry a woman just because she is beautiful, then she will feel she never has to do anything else for you. She will not mind if the house is a mess or your meals are badly cooked. And you will have to put up with this because you married her just for her beauty and not for her domestic skills. The same is true if you marry a woman just because she is rich or from an important family. She will always think she has done enough just by being with you.

Of course, you do need to take her looks and her background into account. But wealth, good family and beauty do nothing in themselves to make a wife think kind thoughts towards her husband. In fact, the opposite is more the case. These attributes are more likely to make your wife feel superior to you. She will feel you do not deserve to have her as a wife and resent doing anything you tell her to do. Make sure you check to see whether her family has a good track record in producing healthy, male children. When it comes to a potential wife’s physical appearance, all that really matters is that she is strong, healthy and looks normal. If she is less than beautiful she will be less hassled by other men’s attempts to seduce, and if she has a strong body she will be better suited to hard work and bearing children.

Marcus Sidonius Falx

What We're Reading

Ideology of Isolation

If you boil the strange soup of contemporary right-wing ideology down to a sort of bouillon cube, you find the idea that things are not connected to other things, that people are not connected to other people, and that they are all better off unconnected. The core values are individual freedom and individual responsibility: yourself for yourself on your own. Out of this Glorious Disconnect comes all sorts of illogical thinking. Taken to its conclusion, this worldview dictates that even facts are freestanding items that the self-made man can manufacture for use as he sees fit.

This is the modern ideology we still call conservative, though it is really a sort of loopy libertarianism that inverts some of the milder propositions of earlier conservative thinkers. “There is no such thing as society,” Margaret Thatcher said in 1987. The rest of her famous remark is less frequently quoted:

“There is [a] living tapestry of men and women and people and the beauty of that tapestry and the quality of our lives will depend upon how much each of us is prepared to take responsibility for ourselves and each of us prepared to turn round and help by our own efforts those who are unfortunate.”

Throughout that interview with Woman’s Own magazine, Thatcher walked the line between old-school conservatism — we are all connected in a delicate tapestry that too much government meddling might tear — and the newer version: “Too many children and people have been given to understand, ‘I have a problem, it’s the government’s job to cope with it.’ ” At some point in the decades since, the balance tipped definitively from “government aid should not replace social connections” to “to hell with others and their problems.” Or as the cowboy sings to the calf, “It’s your misfortune / And none of my own.”

The cowboy is the American embodiment of this ideology of isolation, though the archetype of the self-reliant individual — like the contemporary right-wing obsession with guns — has its roots less in actual American history than in the imagined history of Cold War–era westerns. The American West was indigenous land given to settlers by the U.S. government and cleared for them by the U.S. Army, crisscrossed by government-subsidized railroads and full of water projects and other enormous cooperative enterprises. All this has very little to do with Shane and the sheriff in High Noon and the Man with No Name in Sergio Leone’s spaghetti-western trilogy. But never mind that, because a cowboy silhouetted against a sunset looks so good, whether he’s Ronald Reagan or the Marlboro Man. The loner taketh not, nor does he give; he scorneth the social and relies on himself alone.

Ideology of Isolation

What We’re Reading

Literature about sex, no matter who has written it, is almost always terrible, and everybody knows it. This is widely known and acknowledged — even on this very site, by both the great Sonya Chung and Julia Fierro. We’re all so tuned into its legendary badness that even relatively minor offenses in the realm of sex writing annoy us far more than other writerly transgressions. An imperfect depiction of sex is far worse for some reason than an inept description of someone entering a room or having a marital spat or whatever other things a book might get wrong without anyone disapproving quite so mercilessly.

There is sufficient scorn for bad sex writing that the Literary Review famously awards an annual prize for it. Though “prize” seems like a funny term for becoming the object of public ridicule and mockery. It’s a missing component of the human brain, the ability to recognize one’s own completely botched attempts at writing about penetration, blow jobs, and the rest of it. Most writers, one must assume, push themselves away from their desks at the end of their earnest writing sessions and think to themselves, Job well done. Only to discover a few months or years later that they have gone and humiliated themselves, at least according to a bunch of smug bastards on the other side of the ocean.

Which isn’t to say I’m not in sympathy with the smug bastards. In writing my own book full of sex, there was almost no one I could turn to for inspiration. There wasn’t a single book I looked to and thought, “What I’m trying to do is write sex like she did or like he did.” There weren’t even movies and TV shows I felt had handled it the way I wanted to see it done. You know what movies and TV shows are really brilliant at capturing? Bad sex. They’re great at doing awkward, depressing, uncomfortable sex scenes where everyone is sort of strangled in the sheets, and the women are keeping their breasts covered, and everyone is obviously faking their orgasms and not getting what they want. And you know that the movie is probably about a breakup that hasn’t happened yet but soon will.

What We're Reading

2016 Hugos

The Hugo finalist’s list has been released:

Best Novel (3695 nominating ballots)

Complete lists for all categories can be found here. The Awards will be presented at MidAmericaCon II, right here in RIver City, August 20, 2016.

If you’re in need of some vaguely scifi entertainment 1 before then, Planet ComiCon comes to town this weekend, followed by ComiCon International July 21-24 in San Diego.

2016 Hugos

Show 1 footnote

  1. Actually more of a wannabe/furry convention, with otherwise sane adults garbing themselves in the costumes of the comic book “heroes” they most long to become.